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Splitting up art can be expensive and complex

On Behalf of | Jan 19, 2018 | Property Division

Valuations of many assets can be made fairly easily. A home appraisal and a quick look at recent sales in the area can provide hard numbers for the family home. A look at the Kelly Blue Book value of a car establishes its relative value.

But what about something a bit more outside of the box, like artwork? What is the real value of art, which some pay millions for and others aren’t interested in buying at all? It can be a bit more subjective.

That’s what one couple found out when they were dividing an art collection that some had estimated could be worth as much as $1 billion. However, the legal teams for the husband and wife literally differed by hundreds of millions in what they thought the true value was.

It was clear that the collection was valuable. It contained big names like Picasso, Warhol, Giacometti, Rothko and Twombly. But, with a divide of hundreds of millions of dollars between them, it was clear that neither would likely be happy with the end result.

Moreover, it appears that the wife was more interested in building the collection, and there were some who argued that she had done all of that work on her own in the 58 years that the couple was married. Her husband argued that he had an equal claim to the collection, though, since he had paid for many of the pieces that she’d purchased.

Granted, most people don’t have an art collection that is worth $1 billion, but this case does a good job of showing just how complex the asset division process can be and why it’s important to know your legal rights.

Source: Town & Country, “In a High Profile Divorce, Who Gets the Art?,” Julie Belcove, Jan. 10, 2018